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Expertise in higher education institution authentication being brought to primary schools

Expertise in higher education institution authentication being brought to primary schools

Mariikka Kekäläinen, Manne Miettinen

Efforts to solve the problem of electronic user authentication in universities and universities of applied sciences were begun nearly twenty years ago. At the beginning of the 2000s, a joint project run by CSC, higher education institutions (HEIs) and student organizations explored the use of an electronic identity card in HEIs. One of the key findings was that it was not feasible for an HEI to adopt the use of such cards unless the basic functionalities of user administration were in order.

Indeed, many HEIs began to develop centralized user administration at that time. In addition to this, the idea for a user administration trust network was also explored. The idea was borrowed from the Haka Identity Federation, which is operated by CSC.

The Haka Identity Federation is a network comprised of Finnish higher education institutions and partners, whose member organization users can access Haka services using the login for their own institution.

– Haka has been a success. It has become the basic IT structure for higher education institutions – and the best thing about this basic structure is that the users don't even know they're using it. It has also created a market for service providers, from which schools can purchase interoperable and shared electronic services, explains Development Manager Manne Miettinen of CSC.
 

Teachers and students in digital upheaval

The digital revolution has also shaken up education in primary and secondary schools. Early-adopters have enthusiastically implemented new electronic services and operating methods. However, key basic structures are not advanced enough to support the agile adoption of electronic services.

One example of this is electronic user authentication. Nearly all developed services require user authentication, but each handles this in its own, specific way. Teachers and students are the innocent victims in all this, getting hopelessly tangled in a web of user IDs and passwords.

 

 
"Experience has shown
that trust networks simplify
the administration of agreements."
 

 

Primary and secondary school actors have occasionally expressed interest in Haka. A couple years ago, the Ministry of Education and Culture Department for General Education and Early Childhood Education began to fund the development of a solution for use in organizations of primary and secondary education.

Just under thirty education providers have already piloted the MPASSid system in the spirit of experimentation for approximately one year. 

– The feedback has been encouraging: many felt that its adoption was easy and quick, and no real disruptive technical problems were encountered. The next step is to make joining even easier for education providers, service providers and service developers. Our plan is to collect information on the real needs of these partners by inviting them to participate in service design workshops during the spring, explains Miettinen.
 

MPASSid from a data protection standpoint

At the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, an MPASSid user agreement was drafted to ensure that the responsibilities and roles of education and service providers are defined in accordance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will enter into force on 25 May 2018.

The basic premise is that, under the GDPR, schools or education providers are the data controllers. The controllers are learners, students and staff.

Educational institutions may process personal data in connection with providing education. The operator maintaining the MPASSid system and electronic transaction services process personal data on behalf of the controller. At the request of the controller, the operator submits the personal data specified in the MPASSid data model to transaction services, which provide educational support services to education providers and end users based on the data submitted.

– The agreement was drafted in the form of a trust network, just like the Haka agreement. Experience has shown that trust networks simplify the administration of agreements: all members of the trust network enter an agreement with the operator that has the same content. It is through this agreement that the members are also in a contractual relationship with each other, says Miettinen.

PICTURE: THINKSTOCK

 

Additional information:

Solutions for learners and teachers
Versatile solutions for user authorisation


 



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